That brief exchange between Aric Almirola, who had just led the final four laps to win the 2017 Sparks Energy 300 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Talladega Superspeedway, and co-owner Bill DenBeste was pretty much forgotten in the midst of high-fiving crew members, conducting interviews, and posing for pictures in victory lane.
“It was about a month later and I looked out in the driveway and there was this black Shelby Cobra with red racing stripes,” recalled Almirola, who is in his third season driving the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing. “Bill is really big into the restoration and re-creation of the Shelby Cobras. He’s got lots of them in a warehouse, so he went back to California and basically picked out one that was already restored.
“That’s kind of my date night car with Janice,” added Almirola, who says the 1965 two-seater resides in his garage, but is ominously surrounded by a variety of bikes, scooters, and other toys that children Alex and Abby play with on a daily basis. “When the weather is nice and it’s a beautiful day, we’ll go for an afternoon cruise or go get lunch, or I’ll take the kids to go get ice cream in it.”
It’s also a major departure from what he normally drives, which has also changed over the years. At first, he had an Expedition, which was understandable with a young and growing family, but when it came time to get something new Almirola opted for an F-150 with one specific reason in mind.
“I decided to go with the F-150 because I enjoy doing projects around the house and when I’m cleaning up I just like being able to take things and throw it in the bed of the truck,” said Almirola. “Whether you go to get lumber from a home improvement store or you’re going to the dump it’s just nice having the bed of the truck. With the Expedition I just always felt bad throwing things in the back and messing up the carpet.”
One such project Almirola recently completed was totally rebuilding the deck on the back of his house. We’re talking everything from tearing the old one down to putting the new one up.
“I love working with wood, so that was something I really enjoyed,” said Almirola, who welcomes the many challenges that come along with the actual build more so than the relatively mindless task of taking something apart. “But over the course of rebuilding it there were many trips to get materials, and then when you demolish the old one there is plenty of stuff that needs to be hauled away, so my F-150 came in handy throughout the whole project.”
While he loves the enjoyment that his vintage sports car brings and appreciates the versatility his truck provides, Almirola talks like a fisherman who let the big one get away when it comes to one specific vehicle.
“I’m very envious of the people that have the Ford GT,” said Almirola. “I think that is an incredible vehicle and I wish I had one, but I just was not courageous enough to make that financial investment.”
Then again, you never know what could end up in his driveway the next time he wins a race or, even better, a NASCAR Cup Series championship.
Campbell Marketing & Communications for Ford Performance